2020 has not been the brightest of years in my lifetime. A global pandemic, justified social unrest, economic downturn, and an overwhelming amount of uncertainty. It feels like everything is on the brink of collapsing, and you’re holding onto whatever you can to brace for impact.
So in these times, how can we be expected to write? When everything around it crumbling, how can we garner the motivation to pick up that pen or type in that document?
These are a couple things that have inspired me to keep writing.
Inspiration from the chaos and change around me.
The world is rapidly changing right now: the global pandemic has had us re-evaluating our systems, our leadership, our endurance as a community, and the fragility of human life itself. This gives you a lot to think about. With death knocking at every door, you wonder about the philosophical underpinnings of what it means to be alive. What does that mean to you? With death so near us, what have you thought about?
I know I’ve thought about human compassion. In America, we are notoriously selfish, grabbing for whatever we can salvage for ourselves. Things like toilet paper should not be sold out, small businesses should not be pushed aside because they are less convienent than major corperations. We should support each other than hurt.
But why is it that we’re selfish? Perhaps we know that selfishness is a basic human trait, and that if we aren’t self-interested, if we vy for others at cost for vying for ourselves, then we’d be left behind.
But there is a beautiful dicotomy of this aspect of human nature. COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement have mobilized communities to support, uplift, and change each other. It has shown the resilency of humankind, the will to always fight for justice, to improve who we are today as we move closer to who we want to be tomorrow.
The chaos and change around me has got me thinking about very important things. These are things I crave to write about.
A drive to document the important events in my community.
We as writers document not only the events of our times, but the emotions, sentiments, and rumbles that quake through our communities. It is so important that we document this so that poor high schoolers in 2100 have to analyze our works when trying to understand the events and the motivations behind Black Lives Matter, the Global Pandemic, economic recessions, and mass societal change.
Grapes of Wrath, Their Eyes are Watching God, Invisble Man, Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, and other important stories persist through time because they carry a distant history within them. They help us understand what life back then was without being there.
A drive to tell stories of marginalized or misunderstood people.
Writers have an immense power to represent marginalized communities. It’s astounding how much power, actually. It’s one thing to be educated on something, but it’s a whole different ballpark to be emotionally attached to it. To step into the character’s shoes and just feel what they feel. Feel the burn society puts them through, the weight they carry.
A great example is When They See Us, written by Ava DuVernay. This show most literaly opened my eyes to a world I was not familiar with. I dwelled in the pain with this true story adaptation. My heart cried with the five boys/men. Same with the Dallas Buyers Club, Invisble Man, The Things They Carried, The Death of a Salesman, 1984, Glass Castle, Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, Waco, and countless more.
The stories of those we don’t understand, don’t know, but want to know are so important for us writers to write about. I have a drive to tell such stories and convey such themes in my writing, which is why I continue.
Lots and lots of reading.
Reading is the grandest tool for inspiration you have at your disposal. Read Black literature, read life changing classics that communicate something about change. As George Orwell says…
“And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know— fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”George Orwell
Such beautiful and poingent commentary only comes when you read from the most refined and intellectual of writers. Take W. E. B. Du Bois, Maya Angelo, Frederick Douglas, Zora Neale Hurston, and countless more.
I love the Anastasia: The Musical playlist. It’s so joyous yet emotional. Most days, I need uplifting music to balance the tumultuous times around me. When I need to write, I play music that fits the theme, and it always puts me in the mood.
Time is a finite entity that does not wait for anyone
A realization that the pandemic will pass, social change will occur, and that one day, life will go back to normal. If it does not, we’ll create a new normal.
I realized that life will persist. Resilence and strength is a skill we all have to become accustomed to. We keep moving even though we don’t want to because we are conditioned survivors. We write now because we’ll have to write one day. We realize that life is waiting at your door, eager to consume you and you don’t have a millenia to wait around for that book or story or collection to be finished. You have something you want to say, and you’re dying to say it.
Time is a fickle friend of mine that at times runs too fast and at times drags to slow. Most of all, time is finite, and I don’t know how much of it I have left.
So I write. If I didn’t, a part of me so fundemental will be lost with the other dreams I buried. Time is my friend. Time is my enemy.
Most of all, time is my motivation.